If you’re considering getting on PrEP, you might have some questions. Here, you’ll find a list of some commonly asked questions about PrEP. Should you have a question that isn’t covered, please call us at 1-844-367-7075.

What is PrEP?

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is an FDA-approved, once-a-day HIV-prevention pill for people who are currently HIV-negative. The use of PrEP has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for those who are at risk of getting HIV. If taken as prescribed, PrEP is over 90% effective in preventing HIV.1

Where do I go for PrEP?

Your healthcare provider can prescribe PrEP. You can also visit one of the many PrEP-friendly providers throughout Colorado. PrEP isn’t just a prescription for a pill you take each day. Rather, it’s a collaboration between you and your healthcare provider to ensure your optimal overall health. Your PrEP provider will work with you in developing a daily PrEP schedule and consult with you on your plan for safer sex.

Find a PrEP-friendly healthcare provider near you.

How will I pay for PrEP?

PrEP is covered by most insurance programs and Health First Colorado (Medicaid). The type of insurance plan you have will determine your level of coverage. Colorado has financial assistance options for those who qualify. There may even be options if you don’t think you qualify for health insurance because you missed your open enrollment period or you are a recent immigrant.

Learn more about financial options.

How well does PrEP work?

If taken as prescribed, PrEP is over 90% effective in preventing HIV.1

Is PrEP safe? What are the side effects?

Yes. Most side effects are short-term, relatively mild, and uncommon. For a complete description of side effects, click here. It is important to see your healthcare provider regularly while on PrEP.

Do I still need to use condoms?

PrEP should be part of your overall approach to sexual and reproductive health, based on medically accurate information about risks. For example, PrEP will not protect you against other STDs, like gonorrhea or syphilis. That’s why many people choose to continue using condoms while on PrEP, and both the drug manufacturer and most healthcare providers recommend it. This is an important personal decision, and you should talk to your healthcare provider or call us at 1-844-367-7075 to make sure your choices keep you healthy and protected.

How do I talk to my doctor about PrEP?

You should discuss PrEP with a healthcare provider before you begin using it. Things you might consider discussing include:

  • Do you feel comfortable talking with them about your sexual health?
  • Are they knowledgeable, willing and ready to support you being on PrEP?
  • How regularly will your healthcare provider want to test you for HIV? Will you be tested for hepatitis? Can you be vaccinated, if needed?
  • Which sexually transmitted infections should you be tested for, and how often?
  • Are your kidneys, liver, and bones healthy enough for you to use PrEP?

Should you find that your healthcare provider is unfamiliar with PrEP or uncomfortable prescribing it, you can check out our map of PrEP-friendly Colorado healthcare providers, or call us at 1-844-367-7075.

What tests will I need?

Before starting PrEP, you’ll need to speak with your PrEP provider about scheduling the following tests:

  • HIV tests
  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney function
  • Sexually transmitted infection screenings
  • Pregnancy (if applicable)

While on PrEP, you’ll need:

  • Medical care at least every three months
  • Routine HIV tests
How often do I need to take PrEP? What happens if I forget?

PrEP needs to be taken daily to be effective in preventing HIV. Your PrEP provider will work with you in developing a daily PrEP schedule and consulting with you on your plan for safer sex.

Should you forget to take your pill, just take it at your regular time the next day. For instance, if you usually take your pill at 8AM, and realize you forgot at 10PM that evening, just wait and take it the next morning at 8AM. You should not take two or more pills at once to “catch-up”. This can make you sick.

If you’re having trouble remembering to take your PrEP on a consistent basis, talk with your healthcare provider for help.

Once I start taking PrEP, how long does it take to become effective?

PrEP reaches maximum HIV protection levels for anal sex after 1 week of daily use. For all other activities, including vaginal sex and intravenous drug use, PrEP reaches maximum protection after 3 weeks of daily use.

How long do I need to take PrEP? Can I stop?

PrEP is most effective when taken daily. One pill a day, every day. Some people may need to take PrEP for years to stay protected. Others may take PrEP for a few months, stop for a period of time when they’re not at risk, and then start again if their risk increases.

If at any point you want to stop taking PrEP, you should consult your healthcare provider before doing so. Some of the reasons people may decide to stop taking PrEP include:

  • Risk of getting HIV becomes lower, because your sexual or drug injection habits change.
  • Taking a pill everyday is undesirable or unrealistic. Other forms of HIV prevention, like condoms, may work better for you.
  • Side effects, while uncommon, may interfere with your life. Your body is shown to react to PrEP in an unsafe way.

If you decide later to start taking PrEP again, remember that it takes a while before you get back your protection from HIV. See the answer to the FAQ “Once I start taking PrEP, how long does it take to become effective?”

PrEP vs. PEP

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a once-a-day prevention pill for HIV-negative people who may be at high risk for getting HIV.

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a 1-month prescription for someone who thinks they have already been exposed to HIV through sex or needle sharing. PEP must be started within 72 hours of the HIV exposure to be effective. Starting this prescription as soon as possible after exposure is recommended. The longer you wait to get on PEP, the less effective it becomes.

If you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV during sex or through sharing needles and works to prepare drugs or if you’ve been sexually assaulted, talk to your healthcare provider or an emergency department provider about PEP right away. PEP can be effective if taken within 72 hours of exposure